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Main Street Building Stayed in the Family

The building that houses Estate Antiques has been in the Welch family for more than 100 years.

Franklin Welch grew up in the store on Main Street next to the .

Welch’s grandfather, J.F. Welch Sr., who opened his store Welch’s on the Square in 1896, moved his dry goods store to another location on Main Street in 1898 and then to its final location in 1901. The building was constructed in 1899 by George W. Cooper, who had planned to use it as a grocery store. Two years later, he sold it to Welch.

The building now is covered in stucco but originally was built out of stone, Franklin Welch said.

“They were blocks as big as this newspaper,” Welch said, holding out an open newspaper.

The store sold a variety of items, such as clothing, sheets, blankets and shoes.

“I don’t know if it was the first (clothing store in Dallas),” Welch said. “I sort of think it was.”

Later, the store began offering other items, like sewing machines, and Welch’s grandmother, Maggie, made women’s hats in the back of the store.

“Women would come in and she’d measure their heads,” Welch said. “They’d have huge hats that she’d make for them here.”

In addition to being a store, Welch’s at one point housed First National Bank. In fact, the bank started in the back of the store with J.F. Welch serving as its president, Franklin Welch’s wife, Julia, said.

And in the 1940s, Col. C. B. McGarity, a local lawyer, kept a mule barn behind the store.

“There was a little corral back there,” Welch said.

When J.F. Welch died in 1947, he gave the store to his son, Frank, and gave the Dallas Theater building, which he also had bought, to his other son. That son later turned the building into the theater, said David Welch, Franklin Welch’s son.

Frank Welch ran the store for about 50 years. Paulding County Historian Jason Edwards says he can still remember going into the store as a child while Frank Welch ran it.

"I love going in there," Edwards said. "All of the stuff was so out-of-date. It was like a time capsule."

The store was passed down through the family, and in the early 1990s, after the family rented the building out for a couple of years, David Welch took over, turning it into an antique store named .

“After my father died, David wanted to go into the antique business,” Franklin Welch said. “We’ve been here ever since.”

Welch, who now spends his days sitting behind the counter at the antique store, said it’s neat that the building has been in his family for more than 100 years.

“It just feels like home,” he said.

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